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Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014
PopMatters caught up with Mecca Normal's Jean Smith on the Vancouver duo's upcoming album Empathy for the Evil. The video for album track "Between Livermore & Tracy" premieres here.

Going on 30 years together now, underground provocateurs Mecca Normal are still at it pushing buttons with their art-minded and politically charged music. But those more familiar with the searing, rough-hewn sound of Mecca Normal’s best-known works might be surprised to the hear the layered melodies and expansive compositions of Empathy for the Evil, the Vancouver duo’s first full-length effort in eight years. What’s a constant here, though, is the intellectual depth and socially engaged intensity that Jean Smith and David Lester have been known for across numerous artistic media. PopMatters caught up with Smith to find out more about the concepts behind Empathy for the Evil and how her and Lester’s work in writing and visual arts relate to their music. Empathy for the Evil is releasing on September 30 via M’lady’s Records and Mecca Normal embark on a new tour this week (see the dates below). Their new video for the album track “Between Livermore & Tracy” premieres here on PopMatters.


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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Summer may have just finished, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't dive into a prime cut of surf rock like Los Straitjackets' retro ditty "Kawanga."

Nashville instrumental rock mainstays Los Straitjackets are about to release one of the quirkiest projects they’ve ever put together: Los Straitjackets: Deke Dickerson Sings The Instrumental Hits, which finds the band teaming up with roots music musician Deke Dickerson, who sings lost or reworked vocals over the group’s instrumentals. Below, you can view the lyric video to “Kawanga”, a surf rock number that shows off this project’s playful side.


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Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014
The ebullient, sing-along ready "Bad Country" is but one of many highlights from the Last Bison's forthcoming album VA.

As it turns out, the Last Bison isn’t just a particularly effective card to play in Cards Against Humanity; it’s also the name of a fine band hailing from “the marshes of southeast Virginia”, as its press materials describe.


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Tuesday, Sep 9, 2014
Melancholy and contemplative, Brooklyn Shanti's "Garden of Ghosts" pairs minimalist electronics with the lovely voice of Dani Mari.

Brooklyn Shanti is described in his press materials as “hip-hop’s official cultural ambassador to India,” a claim which, while perhaps exceptionally bold, is backed up by his being dubbed with the title “Indian Bambaataa” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Universal Zulu Nation. For his latest tune, however, Shanti takes on a reserved, minimalist electronic style, which lets guest vocalist Dani Mari shine. The song, “Garden of Ghosts”, the video of which you can view below, is taken from Shanti’s latest studio outing, Bedstuyle.


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Tuesday, Sep 9, 2014
The gorgeous vocal interplay that is at the forefront of HUGH's music dominates the space at Sofar's London venue.

Following videos from Sofar’s London and Philadelphia venues, PopMatters takes you back once again to Sofar London, this time for a performance by the very promising indie quartet HUGH. Helmed by Benin City vocalist Josh Idehen, the group features Idehen on vocals with Izzy Brooks, Andy Highmore on production/keys, and Tino Kolarides on guitar.


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